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The Role of Big Data in Advancing Non-invasive Glucose Monitoring Technologies


Afon Technology, a Welsh-based company, is at the forefront of pioneering innovative solutions. They are revolutionising the field of diabetes management by developing needle-free technology, providing individuals with diabetes essential information on their blood glucose levels and harnessing the valuable insights this data offers (2).

Data around healthcare has grown rapidly and the amount of information being generated by devices such as wearable technologies could help to shape the future management of chronic conditions such as diabetes (1).

What is big data?

Big data refers to large datasets which are too complex or large to evaluate using traditional analytical methods. Machine learning – a division of Artificial Intelligence – can be used to analyse big data, helping to identify patterns and build predictive models (3).

In healthcare, the findings can be used to help diagnosis and predict disease progression. In the face of staff shortages, growing patient numbers and more complex care needs, new technologies and AI have a role to play when it comes to helping people receive the best care, customised to them. New technologies also encourage self-management.

For people with diabetes, big data can help through the analysis of lifestyle patterns alongside medical history to provide a personalised management plan.

Current diabetes care generates a large volume of wide-ranging data which could ultimately help to manage the condition and even highlight potential damage to end organs (3).

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is one aspect of diabetes care that generates large amounts of data (4). Wearable CGMs help people monitor and manage their condition because they can access essential information quickly. Being able to measure their blood glucose continuously gives people the opportunity to act if levels go too high or too low (5).

Afon: Using data to help patients manage their diabetes

Living with diabetes requires constant checking of glucose levels and making treatment decisions for yourself.

The specialist team at Afon Technology, based in Monmouthshire, is working on a ground-breaking technology which will turn any smart watch into a glucose monitor. They have developed a sensor – Glucowear™ – which will sit on the underside of the wrist, attached to the user’s watch strap.

Glucowear™ uses low power RF/microwave technology to track and record changes in blood glucose levels, in real time. The sensor will feed back to a companion app on a smart device to communicate blood glucose readings immediately, while the needle free technology removes the need for daily finger-pricking.

Glucowear™ notifies the user if their blood glucose levels are high or low, allowing them to make a treatment decision.

It also features trend profiles and time-in range profile. With the companion app, users will be able to set alerts, monitor short and long-term records and share data (2).

The data it gathers can also be accessed by the user’s doctor or healthcare professional, which offers the opportunity for them to make recommendations around insulin doses and times (3).

Big data and the future of diabetes care

New technologies, access to data and the use of AI is set to transform the treatment of conditions like diabetes, as well as helping to further understanding around who is at risk of developing the condition and how it might progress (3).

Developments in diabetes monitoring is already giving people greater autonomy in managing their condition and allowing clinicians to access crucial information that could shape their treatment (6).

The team at Afon is proud to be part of a changing landscape that is improving the lives of people with diabetes.


Afon Technology, is a small team based in South Wales tackling one of the biggest technology challenges in the world of diabetes: non-invasive, continuous, blood glucose monitoring.

The team headed up by founder and microwave engineer, Dr Sabih Chaudhry is on a mission to develop the world’s first truly non-invasive continuous glucose monitor (CGM), Glucowear®. The wearable device will sit on the underside of the user’s wrist and using very low-powered frequency waves will measure blood glucose levels which will then be communicated back to a companion app on the user’s smartphone.

Game-changing technology
Dr Chaudhry has been dedicated to bringing this much-needed technology to life for many years but it was only in 2015 that he was able to secure substantial investment to allow him to build up a team to help with this hugely challenging feat. It was whilst working on a cancer treatment technology also using low-powered RF/microwaves that Dr Chaudhry had what he calls his ‘Heath Robinson’ moment with a friend when they realised that microwaves could be used to detect changes in biological constituents.

Afon Technology now employees a number of highly skilled and experienced engineers and regulatory experts who are working together to bring this device to market. The company has been recognised on a number of occasions for its innovative and ground-breaking work, most recently by being awarded a European Innovation Council Accelerator Grant of €2.4million. The company is currently preparing the device for further clinical trials in order to secure CE marking.

Meeting the challenge
Diabetes is a global pandemic with 537 million adults living with the condition, a number predicted to rise to 643 million by 2030. In Wales alone, caring for people with diabetes costs NHS Wales £500 million per year.

Diabetes technology and treatment has come a long way in the last 100 years with current CGMs enabling people with diabetes the ability to self-manage their condition with much more control and information. However, at best they are minimally invasive and not accessible to all living with diabetes. Health complications due to poorly managed diabetes are serious and can be life threatening. A truly non-invasive glucose monitoring device is what so many of the diabetes community and healthcare professionals have been waiting for.

The scale of this challenge is obvious and a number of the ‘big’ tech giants haven’t even been able to come up with a solution yet. The team at Afon is excited and hopeful that they will be able to say the very first ‘non-invasive CGM’ was developed in Wales.


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